I’m constantly trying new things, but I only review stuff that I actually use. That should help keep the clutter down and keep you focused on the best stuff out there. I hope these reviews are of benefit to you in your lifelong adventure of photographic fortune and glory.
My Favorite Things
I often get asked about the things I uses in my professional and personal life so I decided to compile this list of my favorite things! Be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you think!
Photo Software Reviews
Five pieces of software you should have
- Photomatix Review – the software I use most for the “look” of my photos
- SmugMug Review – how I share my photos online… I think SmugMug is the best
- Nik Software Review – a wide variety of post-processing filter options that are fun!
- OnOne Software Review – a robust suite of products and great tools you should know
- Topaz Adjust Review – an amazing plugin to give very nice effects
Additional Software you may find helpful
- Animoto Review – a fun and stylish way to make online videos. So easy!
- Lucis Pro Review – wonderful for adding sharp detail and pop
- Nik Color Efex Pro Review – great tool for color correction, retouching and creative effects
- Nik Sharpener Pro Review – I find the sharpening to be a grade better than what is in Photoshop by default.
- Nik Silver Efex Pro Review – black and white filters sound kinda boring, yes? No – check this out!
- Nik Viveza 2 Review – lets you change one part of a photo without changing another part
- Noiseware Review – great for reducing the “noise” in photos
- Magic Bullet Looks Review – I’m amazed at how much a simple filter can add to a video
- PhotoLooks Review – cool tool for giving your images some “pop”
- Photoshop Review – a nice review of Adobe Photoshop and why you need it!
- Portraiture Review – used for making people and portraits look amazing
- Topaz Detail Review – another winner from Topaz
- Topaz InFocus Review – another winner from Topaz
Photo Software Coupon Codes
I also have a complete list of the best coupon codes for photo editing software.
Camera Equipment Reviews
Below is a list of cameras I recommend that should work for any skill level or budget. In addition, I have a more complete list of Camera Lens Reviews that covers all the lenses I use for my photography.
Good Camera: Sony NEX-3N
Priced at about $499, this Sony mirrorless camera is highly recommended if your budget is keeping you at around the $500 level.
This camera will get the job done for you, and it is an ideal entry point if you are just getting started and want to minimize the financial impact. If budget is not a concern, I suggest you jump down to the “Better” or “Best” recommendations. However, if budget is your principle concern, then no worries this Sony is the way to go! One great thing about it is that all the lenses that you get for this camera can also be used when if you decide down the road to upgrade to the Sony NEX-7 below.
Better Camera: Nikon D800
Starting at $2,800 for the camera body. (don’t worry, the BEST camera, strangely, is HALF the price and six times smaller)
Even though I recommend the Sony NEX-7 below and use it as my main camera, I understand that we are currently in a transition period where many people like to use bigger, professional DSLRs. I used to have the Nikon D800 as my main camera, and I shot with it for over a year, so it is a system I know very well. If you are going with a big DSLR, this is the right choice! See my full Nikon D800 Review.
Best Camera: Sony NEX-7
Starting around $1,100 which includes an 18-55mm lens.
See my full Sony NEX-7 Review. I use this camera. It can be used in almost any photographic situation and is one of the best models available in this class. I use it to take photos of everything, from kids to landscapes to architecture to objects. This tiny 24 megapixel beast has a thousand other features that those clever Japanese crammed inside… see the full Sony NEX-7 Review for more information and sample photos.
Sony NEX – First Three Lenses
If you are just getting started and want recommendations on your first three lenses, here they are. Often times a camera will come with a “kit lens” that is pretty versatile and can get you a long way. The Sony NEX-7 comes with a 18-55mm lens that produces great pictures. But there are many lenses that are better for more specialized situations.
- Sony 10-18 f/4 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – A great new lens that gives you maximum wide-angle flexibility for landscapes and architecture
- Sony 55-210mm (Amazon | B&H Photo) – This lens is a little big but its versatility is perfect for mid-range stuff like landscapes, birthdays, sports, etc. I’ve also used it to zoom in and get shots of the moon (like you can see below)
- Zeiss 32mm prime f/1.8 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – f/1.8 will give you some incredible depth of field. It’s great for taking photos of people, objects, or other little things you find throughout your day.
Nikon – First Three Lenses
Following are the first three lenses I would recommend getting if you bought a professional Nikon camera.
- Nikon 14-24 Review – A great wide-angle lens for landscapes and architecture
- Nikon 28-300 Review – Perfect walk-around lens mid-range stuff like landscapes, birthdays, sports, etc.
- Nikon 50mm Review – Ideal for cute children, family and close-up objects where you like a blurry background
All Lens Reviews
I only write reviews for lenses that I used and I recommend. Below is the full list.
- Nikon 14-24 Review – A great wide-angle lens for landscapes and architecture that I use for about 60% of my landscapes
- Nikon 16mm Fisheye Review – A fun lens that seems to work best when there is just A LOT to capture in a scene and traditional wide angle just can’t cut it.
- Nikon 28-300 Review – An incredible lens. I currently use it for most of my landscape shots, unless things get really wide. In that case, I use the 14-24 lens.
- Nikon 24-70 Review – Perfect for mid-range stuff like landscapes, birthdays, families, close-up sports, events, holiday cheer, swinger parties
- Nikon 50mm Review – Ideal for cute children, close-up objects where you like a blurry background, friends, interventions
- Nikon 70-200 Review – A great lens for things that are kinda far away, like animals or sports or that girl you are stalking
- Nikon 85mm Review – Incredible for people shots. Just. Incredible.
- Nikon 200-400 Review – A super-zoom lens, perfect for wildlife and other shots from a distance.
- Nikon 18-200 Review – A great all-around lens for wide-angle and zoom. Just getting started? This is what you need!
Want to try out a lens? See my Lens Rental review of BorrowLenses.com – Netflix for lenses!
Tripod and Head
My best advice for tripods is to visit your local camera store and try them out! Find one that you find easy to use… I’ve tried many, and my recommendations are below. A tripod is composed of two parts – the Legs and the Head. The head simply attaches to the legs, and these have universal connections.
What I carry
- TVC-33 Tripod Legs from Really Right Stuff – An excellent set of legs for most small to medium-sized cameras. I recently switched from the high-end Gitzo tripod legs to these from Really Right Stuff. I love them, they are lighter and stronger than the comparable Gitzo.
- BH-55 Head from Really Right Stuff – This company makes remarkable products… When you go to the site, you can choose the best setup for your camera. This is what I use on my professional cameras.
- L-Plate bracket for the NEX-7 from Really Right Stuff
- L-Plate bracket for the Nikon D800 from Really Right Stuff
Entry Level Tripod and Head
- Manfrotto 190XB 3 Section Aluminum Tripod – An excellent set of legs for most small to medium-sized cameras such as the Sony mentioned above. It supports 11 pounds, so you have room to grow.
- Giottos MH-1000 Large Ball Head w/ Built-in Quick Release – A simple and easy to use quick-release head that you will enjoy.
- Aweber Review – Email software that we use for our newsletter
- ColorMunki Review – Helps to accurately calibrate the color of your monitors
- Hoodman Review – Compact flash cards and other photography gadgets
- HyperMac Review – Awesome external battery for Macs
- MagCloud Review – Easily create print and digital books
- RackSpace Review – This website and all of our others are hosted by Rackspace
- Syrp Genie Review – a beautiful little device for time laps photography that automatically turns, pivots, and slides while taking the photo for you
- Woopra Review – Great website analytics tools
Any questions about the nature of these reviews? Please visit my Ethics Statement. It’s all quite simple!